Tuesday, October 21, 2014

State Budgets: Where does all of the money go?

We could heat our home with all of the political fliers being shoved into our mail box.

Two of the issues revolve around a local initiative to fix roads (a millage) and charges/countercharges regarding mis-management of fuel taxes.  The fuel taxes were diverted to the general fund because the roads "were not that bad".  Now Michigan roads are among the worst in the Nation and it has proven impossible to redirect fuel tax funds to road repair "because people depend on the social programs supported by those funds.  What will they DO???"

Meanwhile, the one-person-in-three who is employed cringes every time their vehicle hits a tire shredding pot-hole on their way to work.  I guess roads that do not destroy one's vehicle are optional if you only use them to go to work rather than for higher social purposes like getting your next forty-ouncer.

To Be or Not To Be?

The local MSM newspaper ran a fluff piece about the MBK (almost like MLK.  Coincidence?) My Brother's Keeper program.  The six goals of the MBK are

The six goals of the Challenge are:
  • Ensuring all children enter school cognitively, physically, socially and emotionally ready
  • Ensuring all children read at grade level by 3rd grade
  • Ensuring all youth graduate from high school
  • Ensuring all youth complete post-secondary education or training
  • Ensuring all youth out of school are employed
  • Ensuring all youth remain safe from violent crime

Official Whitehouse.gov photo pimping My Brother's Keeper

It is racist when a white guy uses the word "brother".  But everybody understands that when the Prez uses "brother" it means "black men only, whites and women need not apply".

What stands out is point number four, ...mandatory post-secondary education or training.  Also notable is that the third graders are to be held accountable for academic performance...but not the high school students.  All they have to do is endure.

The cynical side of me thinks it is a political payoff for college communities.  Historically, they have been huge supporters of government over-reach.  They see it as job security.  Who better to order everybody's lives than "really smart people".

At a more pragmatic level, it is admission of a huge fail at the middle school and high school level.  We are admitting that we had 13 years to prepare these young people for life and we failed.

MAN, I jus don know whethuh I wonna keep on hangin’ in here or jus hang it up.
Dass de thang! Ta keep on puttin’ up wit all dis drama
or jus put a cap in dem fools; fight an squash all this for real.
I wish I culd die, jus go da sleep. Das all!
Den all dis pain an goin’ thoo all dese changes dat go down in life.
I kin see it happenin’, man. Might be allright.
Jus lay down an die, like sleep. Might be like sleep,
Might dream ‘cept who know whut kinda dreams I mite have win I check outta here;
Dats de ketch

While this is an academic parody of Hamlet's To Be or Not To Be  speech it is a fairly accurate representation of how inner city high schools students write.  In fact, based on what I have seen on Facebook, this passage is kind.  The material seen on Facebook replaces most of the punctuation with Fuk....whatever that is.

Eight grade

Graduating from eight grade meant something when that was the highest level of education most people attained.

===>HERE<=== is an example of an eight grade graduation exam from 1912.  It is from Bullitt County, Kentucky.  I know a few people from Kentucky and they are not handicapped by elitist, snobby attitudes.  They are just folks doing what needs to be done.  They would be the first to tell you that a 1912 exam from Bullitt County would not be about impressing people, it would be about certifying that the carrier of an eight grade diploma could function in 1912 society.

It is my opinion

It is my opinion that education is color blind until about forth or fifth grade.  And then certain minorities not only stall-out, but they regress because being academically successful is "acting white" and is considered a betrayal of their race.

It is my opinion that most schools are successful until the end of third grade.  And some schools are populated with a higher percentage of students who strive to fail.  What else can account for fourth graders in the school district reading at 3.8 grade level and 10th graders in the same district reading at 3.3 grade level...and that does not even count the ones who already dropped out.

Non-inner city schools should not be too smug.  According to The Daily Kos, the average reading ability of US high school students is 5.3.  For a frame of reference, USA Today is written at what is now considered an 10th grade level and Readers Digest is now considered 8th grade level.  In an earlier time they would have been considered fifth grade reading level.

We have occasional visitors who hand out religious tracts and try to convert us to their denomination.  They are usually blue-haired ladies who are chauffeured by bent-over men in 15 year old Toyotas.  The cartoonish tracts they hand out are written at what is now considered the fifth grade level (average four letter words and ten word sentences).  Back in 1969 that would have been considered third grade reading material.

It is my opinion that success cannot be found at the end of a path that has already proven to be a path to failure.

Perhaps it would be more meaningful to issue students fifth grade diplomas that certified that the bearer was capable of reading and ciphering at that level.  It makes sense if fourth or fifth grade is the highwater mark of academic achievement and the pseudo-student regresses after that.  Give them credit for their maximum attainment.

Then focus the resources on those students who demonstrate that they want to learn.

But don't throw good money after bad.


  1. Good post and good points. It's truly sad that the education system has declined as far as it has...

  2. I graduated from the Bullitt County school system in 1992. I likely could have passed that exam, but only because my mother is a teacher and made sure my brothers and I got an education both at home and at school. The majority of people I knew/know in Bullitt County could not pass that exam today.

    Enjoy your blog. You were recommended by my friend Lucky Pittman. Not a frequent commenter but a regular reader :-)